Do you struggle with the rising cost of medical care? Wondering if there is an alternative to traditional health insurance? We left the world of conventional insurance and have not looked back. Find out how and why we made the switch.
As small business owners, we have struggled with covering our large family. We have been aware of medical savings plans but have stuck with a traditional HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) for the last 13 years. Over the years, the cost for this insurance has risen from $450 per month to more than triple that amount in 2014.
Prior to 2008, we relied exclusively on traditional medicine. However, after we connected our toxic home with our health (the 60 doctors we saw in our network treated the symptoms and didn’t diagnose the root cause), we decided to go outside that network. We found hope with a toxic mold specialist in Arizona, but the financial burden grew due to the multiple lab tests, office visits and supplements.
We turned to a healthier diet and alternative care. When this began to make a difference, we wondered if there was an alternative to the conventional medical system.
The traditional insurance model is profit based. Consumers pay premiums, utilize doctors in the network, and support the “industry.” There’s nothing wrong with that. But we asked, “Do we want to continue to invest in this model?” We allowed ourselves to think outside the box. What if there was another way?
With the exception of regular visits to the endocrinologist for our son with type 1 diabetes, we haven’t used a conventional doctor for 6 years. When we heard about medical sharing, a non-insurance approach to health care, our interest was piqued. In medical sharing, the member pays a flat fee to first help with administrative fees and then contributes directly to the health needs of another member. The monthly fee is a fraction of what we were paying. Assuming we continue to be proactive with our health, it could be a win-win.
There’s always the possibility of accident or surgery or long-term care. Our sharing plan will only contribute up to a certain level. There is a risk with any plan, as we discovered in Colorado. There is no perfect medical insurance.
What about Obamacare?
Christian cost-sharing ministries are exempt from the Affordable Care Act requirements. Interestingly, enrollment in these ministries has been on the rise. According to Christianity Today,
“Month-over-month enrollments doubled and tripled throughout the year at Samaritan Ministries—one of the country’s biggest health care sharing ministries, which now has about 113,000 members, 43 percent more than it did a year ago.
Another major program, Medi-Share, reported an average of 500 inquiries a day over the open enrollment period starting in October. Medi-Share saw membership jump to more than 82,000 members nationwide, with a 7 percent increase in March alone.
What does it look like when we go to the endocrinologist? We are now considered self-pay. We negotiate with the provider and if we don’t receive a discount, the ministry will negotiate for us.
Previously our visit to the endocrinologist cost more than $300. Insurance covered the remaining lab and physician fees. The total fees charged were in the $700 range per visit.
I took Colin to his check-up recently and was shocked to learn that with self-pay the charge was $170 for everything.
Minutes after writing this post, Colin cut his hand on a piece of glass. He clearly needed stitches. This would be our first emergency on the new plan. It was a Sunday afternoon. We elected to take him to Urgent Care.
We were given the option of a three-month plan with our local Urgent Care totaling $125. This enabled us to give Colin the care he needed at an affordable price. The follow-up was $35 to have the stitches removed.
I like the new plan. If we need to go to the doctor, we go. If we can find a natural way to help the problem, we try that. Acupuncture has been my “go to” whenever a health issue arises. It wasn’t covered by our insurance, so it felt like an added financial burden. Now I can go more readily. I feel less angst about spending money on organic food (something I consider a worthy investment), and enjoy the feeling of contributing directly to the needs of others.
Cost-sharing plans aren’t for everyone. But I’m thankful for Samaritan, Medi-Share and other ministries willing to give us the choice to opt out of conventional health insurance.
Samaritan recently featured our family in their monthly newsletter. To view the article, see Member Spotlight: Chris and Andrea Fabry. To learn more about Samaritan see their Frequently Asked Questions.